News April 2012 Issue

In The News: April 2012

Yoga More Effective Than Conventional Care for Back Pain Relief

Yoga is more effective than conventional treatment for the relief of chronic back pain, according to a study carried out in the U.K. The trial, funded by Arthritis Research UK, found that people who were offered a specially designed 12-week yoga program experienced greater improvements in back function and more confidence in performing everyday tasks than those who were offered usual forms of medical treatment (exercise, manipulation, painkillers). The trial involved two populations who were experiencing chronic back pain. A group of 156 subjects was offered beginner yoga lessons designed to improve back function, while a second group of 157 was offered medical care alone. Effects were measured after three, six and 12 months. Results showed that yoga provided both short-† and long-term benefits without any serious side effects. Members of the yoga group were able to undertake 30 percent more activities compared with those in the usual-care group. The trial also showed a greater reduction in pain in the yoga group than in the usual-care group.

Music Can Be Effective at Reducing Pain

Distraction is a proven pain reliever, and a recent study concludes that listening to music can reduce pain in high-anxiety individuals. Researchers from the University of Utah Pain Research Center evaluated 143 subjects, who were instructed to listen to music tracks, follow the melodies, and identify deviant tones. During their music tasks, they were given safe, experimental pain shocks with fingertip electrodes. Findings showed that arousal from the pain stimuli decreased with the increasing music-task demand. Researchers believe music helps reduce pain by activating sensory pathways that compete with pain pathways, stimulating emotional responses and engaging patient attention. Among the studyís subjects, those with high levels of anxiety about their pain had the greatest engagement. The studyís authors suggested that music can be effective for reducing pain in high-anxiety individuals who can easily become absorbed in activities.

FDA Establishes Consortium to Evaluate Orthopaedic Devices

Responding to a need for better surveillance of orthopaedic devices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established an International Consortium of Orthopaedic Registries (ICOR). The groupís purpose is to develop a collaborative process for improving the safety of orthopaedic devices using outcomes from registries in the U.S. and other countries. The combined ICOR registries will include data on all implantable devices. Unlike drugs, orthopaedic devices undergo a different path of approval that does not always require clinical trials. Adverse-outcome reporting also is voluntary, and the resulting data are sometimes incomplete or inaccurate. Each countryís registry also takes a different approach to monitoring safety. The result of ICORís collaboration, say its proponents, will be a unified method of analyzing multi-national data, providing an opportunity to improve patient safety.

Older Women May Not Need Frequent Bone Density Screening

Women age 65 and older are routinely screened for osteoporosis using bone mineral density (BMD) testing. However, how often women should be screened is a controversial topic. Now a new study at the University of North Carolina finds that women age 67 and older with normal BMD scores may not need screening again for 15 years. The studyís authors claim that if a womanís bone density at age 67 is good, she does not need to be re-screened in two to three years since there is not likely to be much change. Their study shows that it would take 15 years for 10 percent of women in the highest bone density ranges to develop osteoporosis. The authors analyzed data from 4,957 women age 67 and older from 1986 to 1988. The women were categorized by BMD T-scores, which compare a personís BMD to the expected BMD of a healthy young adult. The study concluded that baseline BMD is the most important factor to consider in determining how often a patient should be screened.